From his upbringing in BC, Canada, to his diverse background in construction, psychology, and music, Kyle Snyder has followed a unique path to become a voice over artist. His journey has been shaped by various experiences and skills that have contributed to his success in the industry. In this interview, we delve into how his upbringing, early experiences, and multidisciplinary background influenced his decision to pursue voice acting and shaped his approach to the craft.
I don’t know if I’d say it had any influence on it honestly.
I think my first experience, technically, was a high-school play where I was the narrator for a radio drama we did. I believe I got some very positive feedback from teachers at the time as to how well I did with it. Never gave it much thought though. So I can’t really say that it inspired me to pursue this career in all honesty. I periodically had other teachers through my high school career make comments of that nature “you’ve got a radio voice” etc. The next time it was even something I thought about though was probably 10-12 years ago when a friend I know who does circus/acrobatics was putting on a performance of Prometheus and I ended up doing the narration for the performance. Fast forward to Oct. 2022 when I officially started getting into voice over seriously, and it was because a friend of mine didn’t have time to read a book I recommended and he jokingly suggested I record it for him. .
I never consider myself to have any background in acting. Doing a play in elementary school hardly qualifies I think. However, debate definitely had an impact in giving me more confidence to speak publicly. This also helped with enunciation. I will say that I had a lot of good instruction from my mom as I was homeschool for a number of years as well, and we did a lot of practice with speaking out loud, and out to project your voice etc.
As for the music; well, music is going to make anybody better at anything in my opinion! Haha. I did some neuropsychology classes while at University briefly and wrote a paper on Music and Neuroplasticity, which concluded that there are a lot of positive benefits from learning music at an early age. Essentially proving the Mozart Effect as it is more commonly known.
Music practice trains your brain to analyze everything you’re doing right away. You need to adjust so many things on the fly with a musical piece, from volume, pacing, tone etc. And, do that for 10 fingers on two different hands. Transferring that into voice over means that I find a lot of elements very easy to quickly shift or adjust in a voice over performance.
When I first got started in voice over, it was primarily with audiobooks. Audition. . .Get the book.. Record the book.. Done. However, if you really want to grow beyond solely audition on ACX for audiobooks, then you start to learn that there is far more to a voice over career. Having run my own business meant that I was very comfortable with client management and communication. Communication is huge in any industry! I always have made it a point to communicate quickly, effectively, and clearly. It also helped with realizing that you aren’t going to book every job you “quote”. Having done all my own books as well, meant that I had spreadsheets going from Day 1 on my voice over work. Tracking the books I had auditioned for, where they were from etc. A separate one for tracking booked work and the amount paid. More or less, running a small business and just shifting the clientele.
Hmmm. I don’t even know if I was considering a career in that field at the time. I had just stopped working at a roofing company where I was a project manager and was deciding what I wanted to do next. I kept working in construction, but also wanted to consider schooling options. I’d always been fascinated by psychology, so it seemed like a natural step to try it out. As much as I loved the neuropsychology course (as I love the connection the biological side of it as well), I quickly realized that I couldn’t see myself pursuing it as a career long term though. Fun to learn though.
Balance. . haha. I don’t know if I’ve got the balance part figured out yet. I’m still in the early stages of growing my voice over career (just started in Oct. 2022) so I’m still on the front-end loaded side of it I think. Constantly trying to reach out to new contacts etc. That being said, I recently was signed with a local agency, and I have managed to get on to a few publisher rosters; Tantor, Deyan, PAV, e-audio productions. I knew from the beginning that a voice over career is a marathon to develop and so I’ve treated everything with the mindset. Nothing comes quickly or easily, but I’ve been very thankful to have made as much progress as I have so far.
That’s hard to say actually. The one that keeps coming to mind though is the first book I did with Tantor. Not so much that it was about the book itself, but that it was the first I did for a publisher and, for me, helped me realize that I really could continue in this industry.
Well, I started on ACX. I got my first book on there after doing a small handful of auditions. . And after that, I was able to keep steady with books on ACX right out the gate. From there though, I started scouring facebook for other voice over groups. Every now and then a group would post a voice over role. We have a local facebook group for Vancouver which was how I got the movie trailer role. The podcast role came from a casting site that I heard about through some other youtube channel. So, it was always just about finding another avenue of connection. . . One connection would mention a new site and so I’d go check it out right away!
Naturally the first step is always reading the book up front. Trying to get some sort of sense of the character and how they develop. But, in all honesty, a lot of my characters just come out intuitively. There are absolutely times where I have to focus more directly on character traits that I need to exemplify; but another big factor is in the writing. If there isn’t depth to a particular character in a book, then it’s almost left up to you in how you interpret them. I’ve had great authors to work with so far and they’ve almost always been super happy with how I’ve chosen to convey a particular character’s style/voice.
I would say the biggest tip is to have an initial mindset that this is a marathon career. I kept hearing that from other people right at the onset for me, and I took it to heart. It’s not an easy career by any means, and it’s only getting more competitive it seems. The other thing, is that voice over encompasses so many different avenues that you could venture into. Audiobooks are a completely different beast from commercial. And commercial is nothing like video game. Etc! Of course there are overlaps to everything; but each genre is nuanced and takes time to develop and be proficient at. Audiobooks were an easy “in” for me when I started. It also depends on which you way you want to approach this industry. You can jump into doing coaching/schooling right away and learn everything as you go. Could be a bit more costly up front, but it can pay itself back in the information you’ll gain more quickly. I chose to do a ton of my own research and learn as I went. I did a couple online classes as well, and a few coaching sessions along the way.
I’m still not sure I’d even say I’m long enough into voice over to call it a career yet. Hahaha. But by far, the 1st year of my getting into voice over was the most challenging. . .and the reason is just life. I was a self-employed general contractor and working full time in that managing construction projects with two guys working for me. Then we homeschool our children and live in a 1200 sq.ft townhouse (so recording time was limited) I was also sitting on the board of our co-op where I live, and helping on the maintenance and park committees as well. So, I had a very full schedule every day. I was only able to record during those moments when my wife and all the kids were out of the house. A crazy balancing act of keeping construction projects moving smoothly and getting home to record a book. Thankfully, we’ve managed to get to a point of having a better schedule now that accommodates more recording time. But that first year was beyond stressful to say the last!
Part of the motivation for me is getting the occasional feedback from a client or potential client. There are so many people vying for these jobs now that it can be daunting if you never know where you’re actually at. It also helps to connect with a coach and get professional feedback so you know you’re on the right track. A super common phrase you’ll often hear is “you don’t know what you don’t know.” There is a local group of VO’s that meets up once every 3 months as well in a neighbouring city where I live. And get connected on social media groups. There are so many people that can help and work along side you to encourage you.
The biggest change for me lately was getting signed with an agency, which means new audition opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. However, getting connected with an agency usually means you’ve got good marketable demos and some proven track record of bookable work. I am still auditioning on ACX whenever there’s a decent book. . .which is tough as I limit what I’ll audition for now based on price. . I’ve lost a few books now as I was too expensive for the author. Otherwise, keep your eyes open. Again, facebook and social media will post jobs every now and then. Also, being aware of numerous free sites that you can be on or audition on. The recurring podcast I do was on a site called AHAB. So it’s regularly checking sites, being involved on groups, and then get creative too. Nothing is stopping you from creating your own work either. . .Just have to find the market for it!
I have converted an upstairs hallway closet that is about 3’ wide by 4’ deep. I made myself some professional acoustic panels with the roxul sound insulation that are above me, as well as a panel behind the mic. The rest is a combination of acoustic foam and blankets. It’s managed to do very well for me! For my mic, I have a Neumann TLM49 into a Presonus USB96 interface, and I use Studio One for all my recording and editing.
I sort of covered some of this earlier, but, at this point in time, my wife is amazing and has found creative ways to get the kids out of the house on a regular basis. She’ll take them to the library, and they can do their schoolwork there. The kids also have swimming lessons, a community school day (Tuesday) where they are gone most of the day (other than my 4 year old). Tues and Thurs afternoons the older two are at a music academy for a couple hours. Then there is another family that they have been connecting with on Thursdays to do some schoolwork and play. And then I’ll usually record on Sundays as well for a few hours as the kids have gymnastics classes most of the afternoon.
So, it’s just finding the time on a weekly basis. It’s never 100% consistent, but there are some “guaranteed” times. I’ll usually plan my books with the assumption that I’ll be able to produce the minimum per week based on those guaranteed times. . .Then if I get extra recording time, it’s a bonus. The other big factor for me with recording, is that I’ve managed to get my average time down to between 2-3 hrs for 1 hr of finished audio. (2 for fiction, 3 for non-fiction typically . . depends on the book though) This is just my recording time though. But I find that I’m usually pretty quick with that, and not having to do the proofing or editing with publishers means I’m able to get through books much faster.
With audiobooks, I love doing fantasy and sci-fi as I thoroughly enjoy doing unique characters. Fantasy even more-so as you can get super creative with some of them. . .
I’m really hoping to get into animation and video game work though! So that’s the next big goal for me.
It will always be different from project to project. An audiobook for example, I can’t be waiting for feedback on every chapter of a book. There have been times where something needed to be changed later, and if it’s relatively small, it’s not a big deal. But the biggest change I did early on in my “career” was that an author changed his mind on a character after I had recorded all her lines, and I agreed to re-do all of her lines in the book with a different accent. Thankfully she was a secondary character and it wasn’t a huge ordeal, but, still something that I likely wouldn’t’ do this time around. But, that’s also because I’ve adjusted my approach with fiction books. I’ll make sure that the author has specified which characters have voices and how they want them. Plus I now have a revision policy in place for changes like that so that they know there will be a cost for that.
Bottom line though, check in with your clients regularly!
Life experience for sure sets every one of us apart. I can’t say I know many classical pianists that went into construction, have played numerous sports, ended up having 4 kids, invested in the crypto market. . .etc! haha. Never discount life experience when it comes to voice over.
Music training has been a big asset though for voice over. I’m very good at cold reads as well which I attribute to the musical background.
And of course, character voices. I would say I have a very wide range of characters that I do.
I think a lot of the specific answers of this question are interwoven throughout the previous questions. . But, to sum it all up. Having run a small business meant I was ahead of the game with bookkeeping, client management, billing, job tracking etc. Psychology and life experience I hope have helped in communication with clients, understanding what their needs are and how to approach each person differently when the situation calls for it. No two people respond the same way, and when much of your communication is doing in written format, it helps to be able to connect well!
And of course music. . . One thing that I believe is crucial in voice over is the art of subtlety. It’s the things that we don’t even know we’re doing sometimes that make one performance stand out over another. And while you can absolutely boil it down to an empirical concept, it needs to be intuitive and artistic though to come off as believable. I’ve heard amazingly technically proficient pianists play complex pieces. . but you can play a piece technically perfect, and still have it be devoid of meaning. I think this same concept is true in voice over. You could nail all the specs of a read and deliver (Eg. Tone goes up here, add 1.5 secs of space, slightly lowered tone etc.) but, when you can do that and vary those specs each time, then it becomes something beyond a technically correct performance.
Kyle’s journey as a voice over artist has been shaped by his diverse background and a relentless passion for continuous improvement. From his early experiences in high school plays and the encouragement he received from teachers, to his exploration of neuropsychology and sociology, each step has contributed to his development as a voice actor. By leveraging his life experiences, music training, and skills in communication and client management, Kyle brings a unique perspective and versatility to his voice over projects. As he continues to hone his craft and explore new opportunities, he remains committed to delivering exceptional performances and expanding his presence in the industry.